Senate Republicans blocked legislation on Friday that would create a bipartisan and independent commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol, launching their first filibuster of the session and sinking one of the few bipartisan efforts before Congress.
In a 54-35 procedural vote, senators fell short of the 60 votes needed to avert a filibuster and move to open debate on the legislation. Six Republicans voted with Democrats, including Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio.
All of the GOP supporters, aside from Portman, voted to convict former President Donald Trump of “incitement of insurrection” after the Jan. 6 attack during his Senate impeachment trial.
Murkowski said Thursday night it was “disappointing” that an independent commission didn’t appear to be in the offing, and criticized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for prioritizing electoral politics.
“To be making a decision for the short-term political gain at the expense of understanding and acknowledging what was in front of us on January 6, I think we need to look at that critically. Is that really what this is about, one election cycle after another?” Murkowski said. McConnell has argued publicly that there are already ongoing investigations by congressional committees and the Justice Department, making a bipartisan, independent commission redundant.
“I’m disappointed that we just haven’t been able to acknowledge that an independent commission would be an opportunity for us to have an independent review of this while we do our work,” Murkowski said.
“Truth is hard stuff, but we’ve got a responsibility to it,” she said. “We just can’t pretend that nothing bad happened, or that people just got too excitable. Something bad happened. And it’s important to lay that out.”
The House-passed bill would create a 10-member commission evenly divided between members selected by Democratic and Republican leaders. Both sides would have equal subpoena power, and the commission will be tasked with issuing a report with findings about the January 6 attack by the end of the year.